The Good: Plot, Acting, Dialogue.
The Bad: Minor character issues
The Basics: One of the more solid two-parters. A must for "X-Files" fans, entertaining for those who are not.
In the third season of The X-Files, the show was hitting its stride. "Nisei" and "731" fit together perfectly as the two-parter they are and odds are, if you're seeing these episodes for the first time, you'll be glad they're together on the same tape!
In "Nisei," Mulder's investment in a video tape claiming to be of an alien autopsy, leads him and Scully to Pennsylvania where they find the distributor dead, killed by a Japanese assassin with diplomatic immunity. While Mulder investigates documents recovered from the "diplomat," Scully goes in search of the man's assumed next targets. This puts Mulder on the course of a salvage ship, the Talapus, which he believes recovered a U.F.O. from the bottom of the ocean.
Scully, for her part, is put on a much more personal journey, one where she discovers that she is not the only one who has been abducted and has missing time. Instead, she finds a group of women, many of whom claim to recognize her, all of whom have implants similar to the one Scully had removed from the back of her neck. In shock from learning this, she attempts to contact Mulder, who has discovered where an E.B.E. recovered from the Talapus might be and he becomes determined to find it!
In "731," Mulder finds himself on a train with a quarantine car that appears to contain an Extraterrestrial Biological Entity, as well as a Japanese scientist who is experimenting on it and an assassin sent to stop them both. As Scully searches a leper colony, she makes a discovery that suggests that Mulder's "alien" is anything but.
Unfortunately for Mulder, he finds himself trapped in the quarantine car with the assassin and a bomb that will spread a virulent disease over its blast radius. As Scully - with the aid of one of the key members of the shadowy conspiracy - works to save Mulder, Mulder attempts to extract answers from the man sent to kill the E.B.E.!
It's pretty obvious why this two-parter is enjoyed by X-philes (those who enjoy The X-Files) as this two-parter is a hugely important episode in terms of Scully's character arc. Mulder's character arc remains largely unaffected by the events in this episode as, by this point in the series, he's pretty well been jerked around. We should be used to it by now and part of the disappointment of the end of "731" is that Mulder doesn't seem to be.
The plot is an intriguing one; what if the U.S. saved a network of criminal scientists and they turned around and didn't share their data with us? It is well played out and the final sequences in the Mulder plot are excellent. There is a lot to enjoy for non-fans as well!
Outside the excellent acting - Stephen McHattie as the "NSA Agent" is amazing - and intriguing plot, the episode is degraded by some minor character issues. Mulder's reactions at the end don't "read" right, Scully's reaction to learning she could have cancer is nonexistent. In fact, the leap is never made that if the other abductees have cancer that Scully may, too. That's disappointing.
During the third season of The X-Files, the series was still being nominated for awards in the Best Drama category. This two-parter makes it abundantly clear why!
[Given that VHS is a rapidly dying medium, a far better investment would be The X-Files - The Complete Third Season, reviewed by me here!
As well, those who already love The X-Files will find The X-Files - The Complete Series to be an even better buy, here!
Thanks for reading!]
"Nisei" - 9/10
"731" - 8.5/10
VHS - 8/10
For other reviews of television programs, please check out my index page!
© 2011, 2008, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.